June Duncan is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers. I am anxiously awaiting the book's release in the Winter of 2018. June has generously allowed me to share an article she recently wrote which includes some of the information from her upcoming book, which covers a wide variety of caregiving-related topics.
Above photo By: Pixabay
Does Your Loved One Need Live-In Help?
As the loved one in your life ages, it’s inevitable their physical and mental health needs will change. It’s normal to see diminished hearing/eyesight, lessened mobility/balance, and a cognitive decline. At first, it was easy for you to be there to offer assistance, like driving them to the grocery store once a week or stopping in periodically to deliver med refills or sort through the mail. However, as their health changes, your caregiving responsibilities increase. You can’t be there for them 24/7, so it might be necessary to consider the possibility of additional help, possibly live-in help. Consider the following signs that it might be time to consider taking this next step:
Broaching the Subject
Before you take the next step, it’s important to sit down and have a serious conversation with your loved one about what you’re considering. Once the word “help” is thrown into the mix, there will be questions, so come prepared with research. There are different types of home health care services, so becoming knowledgeable of the various options will benefit you too. Perhaps your loved one needs help with transportation, basic household tasks, or desires a companion to combat loneliness. Depending on the stage your loved one is in, the degree of help may intensify to the point where live-in help is necessary to provide more careful monitoring and ensure they’re remaining safe and healthy.
When you first bring up the possibility of hiring help, ease into it slowly, but back off if you’re met with resistance. It may take several conversations before you’re able to explicitly suggest live-in help, so be patient. Follow their cues, letting them guide the conversation. You might find that they are open to help, while others are a little wary or downright turned off by the idea. Consider having someone else talk about it with them, like a doctor, close friend or even another family member.
Signs It’s Time to Bring in Help
One of the biggest signs that it’s time to call in reinforcements is when your loved one starts having difficulty with personal care, mobility and medications. Hygiene and cleanliness are essential, but proper bathing and grooming can be difficult due to decreased mobility or even forgetfulness. Mobility and balance also affect the ability to complete daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, using the bathroom or getting in and out of bed/chairs/cars. As for medication, even the slightest mix-up can be fatal due to an interaction or unintentional overdose, and a home health aide can help keep your loved one on track by administering meds.
Look for signs of diminished health such as sudden weight loss/gain, forgetfulness, or bruises, which could be a sign of a fall. It’s possible certain tasks have become to difficult. Your loved one may struggle with preparing meals, driving, washing clothes, or taking out the trash. Even the easiest tasks such as tying shoes, getting the mail, or opening kitchen cabinets can become troublesome due to frailty and loss of energy, all of which can lead to an increased risk of injury due to falls. Once physical signs start to show, this is a big indicator that now might be time to bring in someone to offer around-the-clock assistance.
Loss of Interest
Your loved one used to cringe at the thought of ever missing their weekly yoga or art class, and when you stopped to check in you could almost always be sure that they were knitting yet another blanket or outside working on another carpentry project. However, you may have recently noticed that they have lost interest in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed, pointing to signs of depression, loneliness, or an underlying medical condition. Interests change, but a sudden abandonment of an activity that once brought so much joy is a red flag.
Realizing that your loved one needs extra help beyond what you can provide might seem counterintuitive to your caregiving role, but bringing in reinforcements simply shows how dedicated you are to the health and well-being of your loved one. Caregiving is a group effort, and extra help is not only necessary, but encouraged.